Annie Glenn, the wife of the late astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn, has died at the age of 100. According to The Columbus Dispatch, Glenn passed away at a nursing home near family in St. Paul, Minnesota, early Tuesday morning. Her death comes four years after her husband, who was the first American to orbit the Earth, passed away in 2016 at the age of 95.
Following her husband’s death, Glenn had stepped out of the spotlight and was rarely seen in public. In a statement marking her 100th birthday in February, Hank Wilson, a spokesman for the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University, said in an email to the Associated Press that Glenn “is well but is no longer doing interviews.”
Born Anna Margaret Castor in Columbus, Ohio, on Feb. 17, 1920, Glenn and her family moved to New Concord, Ohio, when she was 3. It was there that her family joined a monthly card club called "Twice 5 Club," which included John Glenn's parents. She and John would share a playpen, with romance sparking when they were in junior high school. They both opted to remain home and attend Muskingum College rather than going elsewhere to further their schooling. John's education, however, was interrupted by World War II, and before leaving to train in the Marine Corps, he proposed. A widely spread and beloved story, before John left for combat in the South Pacific in Jan. of 1944, he told Annie that he was "just going down to the corner store to get a pack of gum," to which Annie replied, "don't be long." She kept a gum wrapper in her purse from that day on.
Throughout her life, Glenn suffered from a stutter, something that she struggled with greatly and opted to pursue a music degree rather than follow her dream of becoming a teacher because of her stuttering. Recalling the every day struggles she faced, she previously said that “lots of people thought when my jaws sort of started shaking (as she tried to talk) that I was cold. Lots of people would turn their backs and walk away from me.”
In 1973, when she was 53, an intensive program developed by Dr. Ronald Webster, a psychologist and director of the Communications Research Institute at Hollins College, helped her speak more fluently. After three weeks in the program, she called her husband, who cried when she spoke a complete sentence without stuttering.
Glenn would go on to deliver speeches across the country on behalf of her husband during his presidential campaign. In 1983, she received the first national award of the American Speech and Hearing Association, and in 1987, the National Association for Hearing and Speech Action honored her by asking her to present the first annual Annie Glenn Award. During that same decade, she was invited to lecture a speech-and-hearing class at Ohio State University, later telling The Columbus Dispatch that "the tears were rolling down my cheeks" when she had the opportunity to teach.
Glenn is survived by her two children, Carolyn Ann Glenn of St. Paul and John David Glenn. Funeral arrangements for Glenn have not been announced, though a memorial service is reportedly being planned in Columbus, Ohio.